China well prepared for extreme weather as heat waves, heavy floods hit country
Published: Jun 20, 2022 10:00 PM
Rescuers evacuate stranded people in flood water in Songxi County of Nanping, southeast China's Fujian Province, June 18, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

Rescuers evacuate stranded people in flood water in Songxi County of Nanping, southeast China's Fujian Province, June 18, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

Extreme weather, likely caused by climate change, has plagued China, ranging from a heat wave of up to 40 C in the northern part of the country to heavy floods in large parts of southern China, with some 85 rivers nationwide exceeding alert levels. 

Meteorological experts said that with lots of experience in dealing with meteorological disasters, especially lessons from Central China's Henan Province's floods last year, China has acted effectively, promptly and more adeptly to this year's extreme weather. 

On Monday alone, the National Meteorological Center of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) issued five national-level meteorological alerts - orange warnings for heat wave, and flash flood respectively, a blue warning for rainfall, and two other yellow alerts for thunderstorms, high winds or hail and fog.

A national-level orange alert warning for up to 180 millimeters of heavy downpours was issued in 12 provinces and regions. The rain is expected to lash the southern part of China such as in South China's Guangdong, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and East China's Jiangxi, from Monday until Tuesday at noon, the National Meteorological Center said.

At least 14 local-level red flood warnings were issued as well.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, 85 rivers across China experienced floods above the warning level in a 24-hour period between Sunday and Monday. 

In the Pearl River Basin, over 54 rivers have been exceeding the warning levels for days. The Pearl River Water Resources Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources said on Monday that torrential rain, which is expected to continue in the next three days, will continue to raise water levels, and it's likely to cause more floods and mountain torrents. The commission has issued 17 flood alerts and coordination orders to 24 reservoirs along the Pearl River Basin. 

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters dispatched a working team on Monday to cope with floods in Guangdong and Guangxi. A coordination conference was held on Sunday at the headquarters, led by Huang Ming, the head of the Ministry of Emergency Management, who urged participants to actively cope with the floods in Pearl River Water and Yangtze River basins. 

Some 180 items of life-saving equipment such as rubber boats and some 119 facilities from the central government have been delivered to the flood-stricken region in Guangxi. Earlier, disaster relief from the central government including tents was delivered to the region. In Guangxi alone, 28 rivers have exceeded the warning level. The Xiangjiang River in a section of Guangxi's Quanzhou county has seen the worst flooding in nearly 20 years, the local authority said. 

Under the influence of heavy rain, the water level of the country's largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake in East China's Jiangxi Province, was the subject of a red alert for floods on Monday. The water will continue to rise in the next four days and it is expected to exceed the alarm level by about 0.4 meters.

Wang Hongwei, a professor at Renmin University of China's School of Public Administration and Policy, told the Global Times on Monday that the emergency departments have been fully prepared to cope with meteorological disasters, more so than last year when severe floods hit Henan Province. 

Whether launching emergency plans or coordinating between departments, their responses have been very timely and effective, Wang said.  

However, a number of rescue workers in places such as Guangdong, Yunnan and Guizhou died when they transferred locals to safe areas amid the floods and some were seriously injured. It is a huge lesson to be learned, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in another recent meeting. 

Meanwhile on Monday, some 12 provinces and regions mostly in the northern part of China were expected to have extreme heat, with high temperatures breaking 40 C in some parts of Hebei, Shandong and Henan provinces. The orange warning was expected to last until 8 pm on Monday. 

To cope with rising demand for electricity amid the extreme heat wave, Henan Province, hit by a temperature of 40 C on Monday, has been coordinating power from other provinces and strengthening power equipment maintenance. 

The maximum power load in Henan at 10:08 pm Sunday reached 65.34 million kilowatts, a new high, up 190,000 kilowatts from the previous record.

The National Development and Reform Commission said last week that the country has sufficient electricity generation capacity. The amount of power generated by key hydropower plants increased significantly compared with the same period last year, and coal storage of coordinated power plants is also at a record high, which lays a solid foundation for China to ensure electricity security in the summer peak season.

Wang Gengchen, a research fellow at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that the extreme heat event in northern China and heavy floods in southern China have come about one and two months earlier than usual. Climate change is probably one of the factors. 

Chengdu-based meteorological expert Li Guoping told media that the main reason for the extreme weather is because of the weak summer monsoon, and the weak northward uplift of the western Pacific subtropical high. Meanwhile, cold air from the north has been active in moving south. As a result, the rain has been stagnant in the south for a long time and moved slowly northward.

As the subtropical high extends westward and northward, causing water vapor from the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea to move northward, rain is expected in parts of northwestern, northeastern and some areas in eastern China between Wednesday and Friday, Fang Chong, senior engineer of the Central Meteorological Observatory, told media. 

Around next Monday, another round of rain is likely in some parts of China, weather podcasts said.

The heat wave in these parts of northern China will also ease briefly around Thursday and in the coming days, and high temperatures are expected to reach eastern and southern China, according to the CMA. 

Fang explained the warm ridge that controlled the north of China for a long time will begin to disappear from Thursday, which will be conducive to carrying weak cold air into the Yellow River and Huanghuai area in North China and relieve the high temperatures.